Since the debut of Rick and Morty in December 2013, a total of 41 episodes have aired on Adult Swim in fits and starts, and despite vast delays in between Season 2 and 3 and then again between 3 and 4, the show has since hit a better stride. The series' lowbrow brilliant brand of gonzo humor is enhanced by excellent storytelling structures that collide sci-fi action with horror, fantasy, and a ton of laughs to go around.
I originally ranked every Rick and Morty episode after Season 3 finished airing in October 2017, but especially now that Season 4 has come and gone, I've had to grapple with potentially universe-ending questions about where those 10 episodes fit into the bigger picture in terms of quality.
Here’s the definitive ranking of every Rick and Morty episode ever … again:
41. “Raising Gazorpazorp” (1.7)
Nobody wants to listen to a young teenager make love to an alien sex doll, and I still hate the joke about Morty and Rick having sex. So much.
40. “Get Schwifty” (2.5)
Keith David as POTUS is great, and so is fake Ice T personified as a literal “T” made of ice. The titular song is hauntingly bad. Yes, I know that's the point, but being annoying isn't always fun!
39. “Anatomy Park” (1.3)
“Anatomy Park” follows the plot of Jurassic Park beat by beat, but it’s all set inside an elderly man's disease-riddled body. In a weird way, neither Rick nor Morty feels like Rick or Morty here, which highlights the show's early struggles with settling into its stride.
38. “Pilot” (1.1)
The first Rick and Morty episode checks all the right boxes by demonstrating the character dynamics and even taking us to a crazy dimension, but opening the series a story where Rick bullies Morty into smuggling Mega Seeds through intergalactic customs via his butthole is a bit over-the-top.
37. "Childrick of Mort" (4.9)
There's something that feels exhausting and uninspired about this chaotic Season 4 episode where Rick thinks he impregnated a planet that then births a unique clay species. Seeing him fight a Zeus god is fun, but that's about it!
36. “Something Ricked This Way Comes” (1.9)
The Morty and Jerry adventure to Pluto and the debate about Pluto’s status as a planet already feels incredibly dated and a bit boring. Rick's rivalry with the Devil is fun, but the spoof on Stephen King’s Needful Things feels a bit too tonally off for the show.
35. “M. Night Shaym-Aliens!” (1.4)
The smug Zigerion Prince Nebulon comes off as annoying in his attempt to get Rick’s recipe for Concentrated Dark Matter by trapping him inside layers of simulations, a decent bit that the show used to greater success in other stories.
34. “Ricksy Business” (1.11)
The B-plot of the Season 1 finale is among the worst the show has ever offered: Beth and Jerry go spend some time on the Titanic 2, an authentic way to relive the Titanic experience. Meanwhile, Rick and the kids throw a huge party at the house. It’s mediocre, despite an excellent joke about Rick’s canapés and the official introduction of the show's squanchiest character.
33. “A Rickle in Time” (2.1)
When time splinters into dozens of pieces, a single decent joke is taken beyond its breaking point. Occasionally (but not that often) this method works for Rick and Morty, but here it doesn’t.
32. “One Crew Over the Crewcoo’s Morty” (4.3)
Easily the weakest of Season 4’s first batch, “One Crew Over the Crewcoo’s Morty” pokes fun at every heist movie ever in an unforgiving, curmudgeonly way. Mr. Professor Poopybutthole deserved better for his grand return.
31. “The Rickchurian Mortydate” (3.10)
Rick’s final battle against the President is an awesome spectacle, but the anxious B-plot about Beth's paranoia about maybe being a clone feels like a rushed way to end an otherwise great season.
30. “Close Rick-Counters of the Rick Kind” (1.10)
This episode is easily one of the most "important" in terms of development (it's Evil Morty's debut!), but it just doesn’t feel very fun next to some of the greats.
29. “The Rickshank Rickdemption” (3.1)
The surprise airing of the Season 3 premiere on April 1, 2017 will forever be a defining moment for modern television, and the action-packed episode where Rick takes on the Galactic Federation and Citadel of Ricks is a thrilling spectacle. It's just a lot of plot and not much that's all that clever, alright?
Werner Herzog's Shrimply Pibbles needs Jerry’s small penis for a heart replacement, this A-plot is just big enough to sit alongside some fun TV shows and commercials from across the multiverse of Interdimensional Cable.
27. “The Whirly Dirly Conspiracy” (3.5)
In an otherwise Jerry-light Season 3, the hapless and foolish father of the Smith children goes on a fun adventure with Rick that forces them to confront their mutual enmity in organic ways when at a theme park where people can't die. The jokes land well, and the whole thing feels like a unique break away from what we expect from the show.
26. “Big Trouble in Little Sanchez” (2.7)
“Tiny Rick!” Need we say more? Usually half of an episode's plot will be great and the other not so much, but here Tiny Rick is complemented by a great B-plot where Beth and Jerry destroy the best couple’s therapy in the galaxy after the physical manifestations of their perceptions of each other team-up and kill everyone. Yeah, that's real wordy, but that's just how it is sometimes.
25. “Look Who’s Purging Now” (2.9)
Morty gets a little too into the Purge event. It’s Rick and Morty at its scariest, but the action-packed twists are a ton of fun here.
24. “Claw and Hoarder: Special Ricktim’s Morty” (4.4)
Individual scenes and jokes from Rick and Morty’s fantasy parody are great, along with the B-plot of Jerry traveling to Florida with a talking cat, but these horny dragons prove a bit exhausting by episode’s end — even for the viewer.
23. “Mortynight Run” (2.2)
Rick and Morty hit its stride with “Mortynight Run” in Season 2 where we encounter the good-natured assassin Krombopulos Michael. Morty plays Roy: A Life Well Lived and bonds with a fart monster. Jerry goes to interdimensional daycare. Everything here is good.
22. “ABC’s of Beth” (3.9)
Rick created Froopyland as a playpen for his young daughter, but Beth returns to find a world that's as twisted as it is horrifyingly fun when her childhood friend has procreated and devoured generations of procedurally generated creatures. Even in the B-plot, fun things happen when the kids visit dad for the weekend. Parenthood is tough, huh?
21. “Rickmancing the Stone” (3.2)
When Rick takes Morty and Summer to a Mad Max-inspired universe, the kids struggle with processing anger towards their parents’ temporary separation. It’s a smart satire of toxic masculinity that makes us question how to best express and process anger.
20. “Rest and Ricklaxation” (3.6)
A spa treatment splits Morty and Rick into a “toxic” and “non-toxic” version of each, so we get to see Rick’s asshole side cranked up to 11. Free from any insecurity, the sociopathic non-toxic Morty becomes a veritable Wolf of Wall Street and ladies’ man in an uncanny way. The way this episode breaks down the core psyche of each character is fascinating.
19. “Morty’s Mind Blowers” (3.8)
Season 3’s “anthological format” veers away from Interdimensional Cable to relive traumatic or bothersome memories that Rick removed from Morty’s brain. We get to see some of Morty and Rick’s worst — and dumbest — mistakes in the form of memories, making this a more personal alternative.
18. “Rattlestar Ricklactica” (4.5)
The Season 4 mid-season finale is a dizzying whirlwind of time travel shenanigans that parody the Terminator series in a story about a planet full of sentient snakes.
In terms of high-velocity jokes per minute, not many episodes can match this one, especially when the B-plot almost has Jerry die from his own stupidity and stubbornness. (You love to see it.)
17. “Rixty Minutes” (1.8)
“Interdimensional Cable 1” gives Beth and Jerry VR goggles that let them experience their lives in alternate realities that appear better at first glance. When Summer vows to leave, thinking she ruined her parents’ lives by being born, it’s Morty that gets her to stay by delivering the very essence of Rick and Morty in quote form:
“Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. We’re all going to die. Come watch TV.”
16. “Auto Erotic Assimilation” (2.3)
A high point in Season 2, “Auto Erotic Assimilation” introduced Rick’s ex, a hive mind named Unity. The episode offers one of the series’ absolute best one-liners. After binging on booze, drugs, and sex with Unity, Rick almost kills himself in the final moments of the episode in a scene that sits with every fan as one of the show’s heaviest moments.
15. “The Wedding Squanchers” (2.10)
The whole family goes to Birdperson and Tammy’s wedding only to find that the whole marriage was a sham because Tammy works for the Galactic Federation. Rick was their main target, and rather than keep his family in danger, Rick turns himself in and goes to prison in a heartbreaking sacrifice. We can see genuine character development all around.
14. “The Ricks Must Be Crazy” (2.6)
A perfect example of Rick and Morty taking a jokey premise several steps too far in a good way, “The Ricks Must Be Crazy” has them go inside the battery that powers Rick’s car, which actually contains a universe ... inside another universe.
13. “The Old Man and the Seat” (4.2)
One of the better episodes from Season 4, “The Old Man and the Seat” has a chuckle-worthy B-plot where an alien civilization tries using a dating app to subjugate the human race and steal their water. But the A-plot of Rick reconciling his identity as a shy pooper by pursuing
Similar to how “Pickle Rick” uses a ridiculous situation to analyze heavy emotional themes, “The Old Man and the Seat” reflects upon what it means for us to seek validation and control through something as ridiculous as “shy pooping.”
12. "Promortyus" (4.7)
The facehugger episode reflects upon all the glorious destruction that Rick and Morty cause on their adventures while making them look like fools and Summer look like the hero. A large portion of the episode unfolds via flashback, making this an adventurous and unconventional way to tell a Rick and Morty story that winds up being compelling, a lot of fun, and uproariously funny.
11. “Meeseeks and Destroy” (1.5)
Despite a disturbing A-plot adventure where Morty is assaulted, the drama that unfolds when Rick unleashes the Meeseeks Box upon the rest of the family gives us one of Rick and Morty’s absolute best stories. The lovable blue creatures exist only to solve problems, but when Jerry gives them the nigh-impossible task of improving his golf game he nearly gets them all killed.
10. “Rick Potion #9” (1.6)
Rick lazily designs a love potion that, in theory, should make Morty’s crush fall in love with him. Instead, the serum reacts to the flu virus that’s going around and transforms everyone on the planet into monsters. The show often uses alternate realities as a punchline, but rarely does it deliver a story this grave and monstrously entertaining.
9. “Lawnmower Dog” (1.2)
The second episode ever establishes a successful model: Give the rest of the Smith family a sci-fi distraction while Rick and Morty go on an adventure. In this case, Rick builds a collar that lets the family dog gain sentience. Over time, the dog builds an empire of smart dogs that take over the world.
Meanwhile, Rick and Morty try to incept Morty’s teacher for better grades, offering up a hilarious satire of both Inception and Nightmare on Elm Street in the process. Both stories remain some of the show's greatest, even more so when they converge in the final act.
8. “Edge of Tomorty: Rick Die Rickpeat” (4.1)
The Season 4 premiere is easily the strongest season opener that Rick and Morty has ever done, delivering some of the series’ most shocking moments ever. Morty’s addiction to Death Crystals guiding him towards his ideal death in the arms of his long-time crush, Jessica, feels in line with his character and sets him careening on a dangerous path that almost destroys the world, Akira-style.
The B-plot is also a lot of fun, in which Rick’s consciousness is uploaded into alt-reality clones several times over after he dies in an accident. The stakes feel overwhelming in both cases, which makes for a really entertaining episode.
7. "Star Mort Rickturn of the Jerri" (4.10)
The Season 4 finale is chock full of adroit kinds of fan service and plenty of action when the new and improved Galactic Federation tracks a version of Beth to Earth after she suspects she was a clone. The episode is elevated into the top 10 thanks to a poignant final scene where Rick reckons with his inadequacies as an alcoholic father who always acts for his own self-interest.
6. "Never Ricking Morty" (4.6)
Otherwise known as the "Story Train Episode," this Big Brain and self-referential episode is a brain-melting analysis of what makes Rick and Morty stories work. Many of the jokes in this slightly anthological episode are downright hilarious, ratcheting up meta-commentary to bonkers levels.
Who thought Rick and Morty could satirize the entire superhero genre while also making Blackout Rick a villain akin to Saw’s Jigsaw? The randomness of this episode defies expectations in the funniest ways imaginable and delivers an immensely fun experience for the viewer that's unlike anything the show has ever done since.
4. "The Vat of Acid Episode" (4.8)
If the story train episode is Rick and Morty going big-brain brilliant, then "The Vat of Acid Episode" where Rick commits to a truly stupid scheme (faking their deaths in a fake vat of acid) just for fun is the epitome of lowbrow brilliance. Rick then designs a device for Morty that resets time on a bet, but the cruel twist is that thousands of Mortys from across the multiverse die as a result. An extended sequence in the middle where Morty finds his soulmate is also one of the best things the show has ever done. Easily the best Season 4 episode.
3. “Pickle Rick” (3.3)
Rick would rather risk dying than go to family therapy, so he’s left stranded as a pickle. When he winds up rolling into the sewer, he has to battle roaches, rats, and eventually even Russian secret agents and Danny Trejo’s Jaguar.
“Pickle Rick” is an insane, violent adventure that celebrates ‘90s action movies while also delivering a poignant examination at the practice of therapy itself. It’s entertaining, insane, thoughtful, and reflective.
2. “Total Rickall” (2.4)
The single best opening to any episode ever happens during “Total Rickall” when Rick realizes that “Uncle Steve” is an evil alien parasite and shoots him in the head. The family laughs about it with Mr. Poopybutthole, and then they spend the entire episode on lockdown, trying to kill off all of the fake characters created by this species of parasite that wants to take over the world by implanting false happy memories.
The attention to detail as wackier characters emerge is incredible, and the quirky jokes and odd subplots make this the most entertaining episode of Rick and Morty ever — but it's just shy of being the best.
1. “The Ricklantis Mixup” (3.7)
Rick and Morty go off on “a fun, fresh, self-contained adventure” to Atlantis that we never see. Instead, we watch “Tales From the Citadel." It's an unsettling fakeout, even for Rick and Morty, but it really pays off.
Presented as an interwoven collection of vignettes aboard the recovering Citadel that Rick nearly destroyed in the Season 3 premiere, these stories collectively demonstrate what life is like for all sorts of Ricks and Mortys. The most important story happens as Evil Morty seizes control of the government after winning a democratic election under a false platform of equality and inclusion, but in reality, his intentions are far more sinister and ruthless.
Read our Rick and Morty Ricktrospective for an in-depth review of every episode.